I have shingles, diagnosed seven weeks ago and the pain, itching and burning continues. I meant to get the vaccine many times, but kept procrastinating. So now I suffer!
On Friday afternoon, April 1, Lin and I colored my hair, getting ready for our first square and round dance festival in two and a half years. I wanted to look good, and I hadn’t colored my hair in several months.
After Lin rinsed the color off, I jumped into the shower to rinse more thoroughly and take my shower before the evening dance. In drying off, I noticed some red bumps on my forehead, but I didn’t notice they were only on the right side. I wondered if I had gotten allergic to the hair color!
We had a delightful time at that festival (I wrote about it on April 3 for my blog), but I didn’t feel right—just off. We danced Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday morning. After the festival on Sunday afternoon, I attended the funeral of the wife of a dear friend and met another friend from out-of-town there, then we spent the rest of the afternoon together. As time went on, I felt sicker.
When I got home, I slept for two hours. After that nap, I looked in the mirror and the rash on my forehead had worsened. Deep in my heart, I feared it was shingles because my dad had them in 1988 when he turned 70 years old, and it looked similar. Now I noticed it appeared only on the right side.
Back then, the medical world thought Dad needed to be in isolation because shingles were highly contagious. So, we had to don medical clothes, and it was horrible. He looked like someone had painted half of his bald head red! He suffered with his eyebrow hurting until he died.
You would think that experience would have convinced me to get the shingles vaccine, but no, I kept thinking, “Next month, next year!”
The other reason I didn’t rush to get the vaccine is I thought I had not had the chickenpox, and I had read you had to have chickenpox to get shingles. I had never broken out with chickenpox; however, when my mom’s best friend’s baby got chickenpox, Mom put my brother and I in her crib so we’d get them as children. They did that back then as preventive measures—children suffered less with the childhood diseases than adults did.
I never broke out! However, during my teaching career, we had a chickenpox epidemic at one school I taught at, and I never got them. I always thought that curious! So, I probably had the chickenpox as a baby and was asymptomatic (I’ve learned the meaning of that word since the pandemic).
On Monday, April 4, I went to Urgent Care, and the doctor confirmed what I feared—I had shingles on the right side of my face: my scalp, forehead, eyelid and under my eye. He prescribed ValAcylcovir, an antiviral medication. When I got home, I messaged my primary care physician about the location of the shingles and he immediately responded, “Get to your eye doctor this week!”
So, I saw my eye doctor on Wednesday to make sure my eye was okay and it was, but he prescribed another week of the ValAcylcovir. Lin got his first shingles vaccination that day because he didn’t want to go through what I was!
For the first few weeks, I used calamine lotion on the rash—it helped so much with the itching and burning. Then a friend on Facebook suggested using CBD oil because her husband had been relieved when he used it when he had shingles. I had so many suggestions on Facebook, but I couldn’t try them all.
During the first four weeks, I had a leisure morning, tried to work on the computer for a couple hours in the afternoon, then I had rested for a couple hours—so unlike me!
Last week, I saw my primary care physician for a checkup for the shingles. He prescribed Gabapentin for my pain. The Tylenol didn’t help with the pain anymore. As I faced the fifth week, my doctor said I had postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of pain, burning, and itching that can last an indefinite amount of time.
Then I faced chairing a square and round dance festival the second weekend in May, so I did it last weekend, but it took its toll on me. I tried to catch up this whole last week. Then I helped minimally at another festival this weekend. I just didn’t have the energy to take part the way I’m used to.
Last night, I suffered with severe stomach cramps when I got home from the dance. I slept with a heating pad and went to sleep, but the severe stomach pain woke me at 4:00 am and continued relentlessly until 6:00 am.
I’m afraid my pain medication is clashing with my stomach medication and that may cause the stomach cramps! What to do???
Shingles are horrible, and I didn’t break out as severely as many people, primarily because I got the antiviral medicine so quickly.
This is my personal PSA (Public Service Announcement): if you are 50 or older, get the vaccine even if you don’t think you had the chickenpox! After seven weeks and facing my eighth, I do not know when this will end. I had many plans canceled (an audiobook put on hold, my seventh book put on hold, life put on hold!). Don’t take a chance!
~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/
~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.
~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:
~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com